Front line stories from David Cardone’s FitMarc Team

By David Cardone’s

Thank you Brent for thinking of the impacted club’s.  I’m sure all clubs impacted by disasters have very similar stories.

It’s definitely trying times.  Many of our displaced staff are front liners.  It’s hard for us because we want to just write checks to make their world right again.  But, the club also has to think of our long term viability because the flooding displaced 1000-1500 of our members.  Many of which are still under water, over a week after the storm.   It will be a year before many of these people are back in their homes. The club needs to be prepared to handle those losses.

It is humbling to see what front line people go through to have the privilege of working.  They are critically important to our customer service chain. But, for many, the club is everything to them and they care more about us even though they may of lost everything.

Continue reading “Front line stories from David Cardone’s FitMarc Team”

A Note from Brent Darden

Who would ever have thought the words “go fund me page” and Brent Darden would ever be in the same sentence? Amazing what the right motivation will do.

Knowing that I live in Texas, many people have been reaching out to me with concern related to the ongoing damage from Hurricane Harvey. The following clubs were impacted to varying degrees – temporary club closings, power outages, increased membership cancellations, requests for memberships to be placed on hold, flooding, facility and equipment damages, cancelled programs / classes (affecting staff earning and member spending), inability of staff and members to access the clubs due to bridge and road closings, etc. Of course in time, insurance will hopefully cover many of these business losses.

However, an immediate need is taking care of affected staff members (especially front-line employees) that may not have the resources to cope with this catastrophe.

Clubs impacted include:

  • Corpus Christie Athletic Club – Lisa Gorsline
  • Golds Gym Houston – Bryan Murphy
  • Houstonian – Cher Harris (are establishing their own “Houstonian Employee Assistance Fund” for Houstonian employees)
  • Memorial Athletic Club – Dave Cardone
  • Villa Sport – Cypress & Woodlands – Laurie Smith

Continue reading “A Note from Brent Darden”

Hurricane Harvey

By John’s Musings


The devastation is of biblical proportion affecting millions of people in the Houston, Corpus Christie and southern/coastal communities of Texas. We have all seen the heart-wrenching images and in our heart, theres a desire to do something. On Sunday morning, IHRSA icon Brent Darden sent me an email sharing with me the text below on how we can do the right thing and make a difference. Fitness facilities in the areas mentioned above need our help! Yes, with Brent leading the charge, we can make a difference.

Besides Brent’s content, we have video of Villa Sport – Cypress & Woodlands facility and the flooding that occurred.

Finally, Dave Cardone from Memorial Athletic Club and his “first hand” account on how hurricane Harvey is effecting our “first liners” at these facilities is another snapshot about the human impact Hurricane Harvey has had.

Continue reading “Hurricane Harvey”

The Benefits of joining a REX Roundtable

A brief talk with Eddie Tock – REX Roundtables CEO  

Recently, I had an opportunity to discuss the benefits of joining a REX Roundtable when dining with a club manager. The club manager has been in the fitness industry a number of years and runs a facility that is second to none. He has done a fantastic job in keeping membership high, providing an unmatched membership experience and enjoying non-existent turnover. So why should he join REX Roundtable?

The short answer is that most industry events and conferences, in every industry , not just fitness, focus on the operational side of the business only – what REX Roundtables call the 1st Agenda. Most businesses have opportunities & challenges in the 2nd – culture, strategy systems- agenda and 3rd – Leadership Development – agendas that greatly affect their 1st agenda decisions. The attached document explains it in more detail.

REX Roundtables has over 125 club owners and executives from all over the country sharing BEST PRACTICES   – they meet 3x per year for 3 days in a Mastermind group. The idea is that the REX Roundtable “ROI is one of the highest investments” an owner/GM can make!

Based upon my conversations with Eddie Tock (REX Roundtables CEO  eddie@rexroundtables.com (914) 643-3207 ) he shared with me the following:

Currently, owners and club executives have the opportunity to join a group of like-minded individuals who want to grow their business. Each meeting they cover the following:

  • Strategy issues for the business to help with blue ocean strategies, growing pains and differentiation;
  • Marketing that helps get more clients;
  • Comparing key business numbers to benchmark best practices;
  • Discovering how to keep members longer;
  • Outside the fitness industry consumer trends that are relevant.

Listen to members talk about REX on http://www.rexroundtables.com/rexweb/main.cfm

If you have a desire to learn more about REX Roundtable, I encourage you to talk with Eddie as to how you can become involved in the “one of a kind” organization.

Highlights from the 37th FitLife Summer Conference


This was the  37th year for the Fitlife Summer Conference (held in Bend Oregon), which rivals IHRSA as the longest running conference in our industry. The conference addressed issues of change which seem to be everywhere. Topics like growing a facility’s membership base, dealing with new categories of clubs/studios that are eroding membership and managing the “Rapids of Change” that permeates the fitness industry were highlighted.

Presenters like Bill McBride from Active Wellness/BMC3 keynoted a presentation on “People Performance” and Sal Pellegrino from Precor presented on “How to Sell and Succeed in Competitive Markets in 2017”. If you ever get a chance to hear these guys present at a conference or event, they will exceed your expectations.

Please keep in mind the FitLife Conference is open to all independently owned facilities, no matter where your facility is located.

For further attendance info, please contact Neal Simpson (neal@fitlifeclubs.com).

From the folks at Augie’s Quest; Awareness for ALS

By Jai Smith


Jay Smith with his wife, Missy, and their daughters Loghan and Peyton.

Howdy!

I’m honored to be writing y’all this month for Augie’s Quest. I vividly remember the first time I heard about Augie. It was a morning in late 2013 and I was getting ready for work. From the bathroom I could hear my wife crying. She called for me to come watch the Today Show where they were doing a story on Augie. I thought to myself, “that’s one resilient dude”, and I went on with my day.

Little did I know that just six months later, at the age of 36, I would be diagnosed with the same disease. I was the picture of health (ok besides my affinity for craft beer), ran my own music technology company, married to my high school sweetheart, and had two young daughters whom I adored. Now facing a diagnosis with an eighteen month life expectancy my doctor told me to get my affairs in order, like anyone knows what that even really means?

Almost four years later I sit here typing to you with my eyes, completely paralyzed while my nurse pours my lunch through a tube in my stomach. Even as I type that it sounds surreal. Despite my condition I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’ve started a second career as a writer, both to raise awareness for ALS through my blog and for the Huffington Post, and as a fiction writer. I’m developing technology to enable people with disabilities more freedom, and raising two incredible kids.

ALS has taken a lot from me, too much to even begin to list. But it’s also given me a lot to live for. I look forward to watching my girls go off to college, to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary, and to see the day where ALS isn’t a devastating terminal illness. I know that I’ll be around to see that day and I’ll spend every minute leading up to it trying to make the world a better place.

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, things just happen and how you respond creates meaning. I do know that seeing Augie on TV that day left a profound impact on me. It showed me how perseverance, determination, and hope can prevail over whatever you’re facing. It also showed me that leading by example is the most important thing I could do, and I haven’t looked back since.

-Jay Smith

John’s August Musings

Next to the month of March when IHRSA occurs, I find July to be the second busiest month of the year. Summer Conferences for regional IHRSA organizations like MACMA and Fitlife take place and provide excellent venues to refresh and learn the latest information to provide a better membership experience. And along with the summer conferences, prospects and customers want me to drop by and do a “walk-through of their facility. Three weeks on the road and I finally get to come home for a bit.

Fitlife is the regional conference held in Bend Oregon. Bill McBride was one of the key-note speakers and of course was sponsored by Petra-1. Bill spoke about “People Management”, finding the right people to work “with”, “manage” and “lead”.  We also welcomed Sal Pellegrino from Precor who presented an overview of key trends and how “low Cost”, “big box” and “boutique” expansion is effecting the marketplace. He provided case studies of how facilities hes involved with made adjustments and thrived in their respective marketplace.

The Fitlife conference is open to all “non-corporate” fitness facilities, not only will you find the conference informative but also relaxing as the venue is nestled along five garden-like acres on the banks of the tantalizing Deschutes River.

Continue reading “John’s August Musings”

John’s Musings, By John Mickelson

Soapbox readers

Next to the month of March where we all attend IHRSA, July has become the month for all IHRSA regional conferences and events. MACMA (covers the states of Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware and Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and Fitlife (covers the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana) are regional IHRSA organizations that provide conferences that educate and provide a tradeshow venue to view the latest items for improving your membership experience. If you are not a member of these organizations, please email me and I’ll provide you all the contact info.

This month, Will Phillips (Founder, REX Roundtables  will@rexroundtables.com ) has shared with us his perspective on hiring….you hire for attitude, and train for skills. I believe its one of the best written articles on what to look for when hiring a new employee. In being a preferred vendor for the REX Roundtables organization, we have found REX to be an organization where you receive much more than you give. It truly does change lives. If you are not a member, you need to talk with Will or Eddie Tock ((914) 643-3207) about how your facility would benefit by joining.

Bill McBride and Brent Darden have been regular contributors to the Soapbox. Both Bill and Brent along with Allison Flatley will be presenting at Club Industry (October 4-6) the topic of “Leadership Mastery, Leadership – The Direction & Strategy”. We have included a copy of the speaking notes and itinerary. If you haven’t experienced a session where Brent and Bill are presenting together, you need to make sure you attend. Add Allison Flatley of Corporate Fitness Works talking about “Service & Member Experience” into the presentation and you have three industry icons that will exceed your expectations.

Brent Darden – brent@brentdarden.com  Allison Flatley- allisonflatley85@gmail.com Bill McBride – BillMcBride@BMC3.com…

Continue reading “John’s Musings, By John Mickelson”

The Creative Destruction of the Fitness Industry

FitLife will present some new research on fitness trends discussing the various business models, focusing on studios and boutique clubs.

A focus will be on studios and boutique clubs and why they work with the new wave of consumers. We will introduce the subject with some facts on what’s happening now in fitness.  Included are details on the new wave of fitness users (Millennials) including how they are spending their money in our industry. (10 minutes)  The good news they spend much more money of fitness than the baby boomers!  The challenge is delivering how they pursue fitness in a traditional club environment.

Members of the round table were chosen as they represent different types of clubs in our industry and inside the Fitlife Club Network.  Each Round Table Member will discuss what they are doing to offer a unique functional, boutique studio type experience within their business.

  1. Describe what’s new in their business that addresses fitness industry trends/ fitness business models.
  2. What’s working: (Best Practices) and its effect on member attraction, retention, ancillary revenue and operations.
  3. What’s not working (Lessons Learned)
  4. What are you changing to adapt (What’s next)
  5. Open discussion with the audience.

Continue reading “The Creative Destruction of the Fitness Industry”